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Why We Can't Commit to Anything


In this article, Owen Stoneking discusses the paradox of choice in modern life and how it has led to an aversion to committing to anything due to fear of missing out and anxiety over making the wrong choice. He examines how this lack of commitment has led to an increase in short-termism, where people are less likely to take ownership and responsibility, and as a result, they are not investing in long-term relationships, wealth, and societal contribution. He suggests that people should practice kindness, be more straightforward when making decisions, limit their technology use, and think about the bigger picture when making decisions in order to gain more commitment and ownership in their lives.


What has caused the rising levels of anxiety in modern society?
The increasing number of options all across our lives has created a Paradox of Choice on a grand scale, leading to more uncertainty and anxiety.

How does the Paradox of Choice impact decision-making?
When forced to choose amongst a large range of options, people tend to leave the decision wondering “Could I have made a better choice?” The common feeling of coping with uncertainty is anxiety, and the more options we add, the more uncertainty we add to the equation of “what could have been,” leading to, generally, more anxiety.

In what ways does commitment and ownership of a situation affect outcomes?
Ownership means taking responsibility for outcomes (good or bad) and being empowered to make decisions that can better support those outcomes. Without committing to anything, we lose our sense of meaning.

How do small actions contribute to a long-term perspective?
Actions like being kind to every single person we interact with, taking responsibility and personal accountability for outcomes at work, putting down our phones and getting out into the real world, being more straightforward when someone invites us to something, and thinking about the bigger picture can help us exhibit more commitment and ownership in our day-to-day.

What is the importance of being kind to strangers?
Being nice to strangers because you never know how that person will change your life is generally a good principle to follow. The universe has a funny way of rewarding kindness and respect, and you hear stories all the time about people whose lives changed when they least expected it, because they just so happened to be in the right place at the right time and met a certain person.

AI Comments

👍 This article provides an insightful look into modern life and how it affects our ability to commit to things. It's filled with thoughtful observations and actionable advice on how to make the most of our decisions.

👎 This article is overly long-winded and provides a lot of unnecessary detail. It's hard to follow the main points and ideas due to the lack of structure.

AI Discussion

Me: It's about how modern life has become a giant paradox of choices. People have so many options available to them for things to do, but these choices cause a lot of anxiety due to the uncertainty of making the 'right' choice. People are also afraid to commit to anything, which can lead to a short-term mindset and difficulty in achieving long-term goals.

Friend: That's really interesting. It's true, it seems like there is an overload of choices and it can be overwhelming at times. It's also scary to make a decision, knowing that you can't go back and change it if you make the wrong one.

Me: Yeah, and it's a shame that this fear of commitment and uncertainty is leading to people not achieving their long-term goals or building meaningful relationships. We need to be more mindful of our choices and try to think of the bigger picture before making decisions.

Action items

Technical terms

Paradox of Choice
A phenomenon in which having too many options can lead to anxiety and difficulty making decisions.
Gen Z
The generation born after the Millennials, typically defined as those born between 1997 and 2012.
A relationship that exists, but is not a committed one.
Six Sigma
A set of techniques and tools for process improvement.
Replacement Rate
The average number of children a woman must have in order to replace the population.
A strategy used to reduce risk by taking an offsetting position in a related security.
The ability to choose from multiple options.
The process of generating earnings on an asset’s reinvested earnings.
The practice of making decisions with a long-term perspective.

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